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April 10, 2008

Student-led teams take top honors at Purdue's entrepreneurship competition

Burton Morgan entrepreneurship competition
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Student-led teams developing a program for testing software and an environmentally friendly biodegradable shooting target took the top prizes Tuesday (April 8) at the $100,000 Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition at Purdue University.

Software developer SmartAn Inc. won the $40,000 top prize in the Gold Division. The team, led by Sirsha Chatterjee and Murali Krishna Ramanathan, also will receive legal and consulting services valued at $5,000 from Ice Miller LLC.

EcoDisc Inc., which includes undergraduate students A.J. Boeh, John Mullen, David Conway and Benn Hall, beat out four other finalists for the $20,000 top prize in the Black Division.

"The final presentations from both the undergraduate and graduate student teams were strong and highly competitive," said Kenneth Kahn, the Avrum and Joyce Gray Director of the Burton Morgan Center in Purdue's Discovery Park. "With their winnings from this well-established competition, the teams now can take their ideas, refine them and work to further realize their products, inventions and services."

The Gold Division, also known as the open category, includes non-student members if no more than 20 percent of the team is composed of non-Purdue personnel. Top three winners in this division also received free legal and consulting services from the event's associate sponsor, Ice Miller, an Indianapolis-based legal and business-advising firm.

In addition to SmartAn, Gold Division winners were:

* Second place, $12,000 and $3,000 in legal and consulting services: Cytometry for Life, a company developing a low-cost diagnostic device for AIDS. Hildred Rochon and Lova Rakotomalala made the presentation.

* Third place, $8,000 and $2,000 in legal and consulting services: iPrivacy Manager, led by Arjmand Samuel and Robert M. Caswell in developing an online security service for social networking Internet sites.

* Fourth place, $3,500: Flocessor Microfluidic Technologies, a company developing a general-purpose, programmable microfluidic lab-on-a-chip device, led by Ahmed Amin and  Han-Sheng Chuang.

* Fifth place, $1,500: GameSense, an Internet-based service for improving video training for sports teams, led by Jae Patrick Fadde.

Black Division teams included only undergraduate Purdue students, but could include a faculty adviser. Other division finishers at the 21st annual event were:

* Second place, $7,000: Digital Information Literacy Contest, a concept led by Daniel Poynter, Amit Pahwa and John Bohlman that involves an Internet-based tool created to improve student interest in using library resources.

* Third place, $5,000: Unstoppable Learning, an educational software development company led by Andrew Evans, Travis Faas, Eric Biddle and Drew Allen.

* Fourth Place, $2,000: P-Ride, a motorized inline skate developer led by Karl Kreder, John Dill, Travis Brubaker and Dan Hursh.

* Fifth Place, $1,000: Recruit-Cast, a videoconferencing concept for prospective job applicants led by Jeff Carr and Darrin Hines.

The annual competition started with 47 executive summary submissions describing innovative product and service offerings. Five undergraduate and five graduate student teams then were invited to make 30-minute presentations on their business plans Tuesday (April 8).

Judges for the competition were Carrie Bates, managing partner of Triathlon Medical Ventures in Indianapolis; Shane Fimbel of the Purdue Research Foundation; Chaz Giles, strategist and finance manager of Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati; Ken Green, founding partner of Spring Mill Venture Partners in Carmel, Ind.; G. Logan Jordan, associate dean of administration in Purdue's Krannert School of Management; Azin Lotfi, partner of Ice Miller; Jim Mellott of Northwest Interiors Corp. in Elkhart, Ind.; Steve Shade, managing director of Purdue's Center for Advanced Manufacturing; and Rob Theodorow of Stormfront Productions in Lafayette.

In 2007, advanced manufacturing technology device company M4 Sciences Corp., won the top prize in the competition's Gold Division, while won the Black Division for its online calendar that promotes the local arts and music scene.

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship provides a platform to launch technology-based enterprises based on Purdue research and helps faculty, students and Indiana entrepreneurs better understand how to bring research and technology to market.

The Discovery Park center also leads Purdue's Kauffman Campuses Initiative for fostering entrepreneurship programs across campus. The national initiative emphasizes student entrepreneurial ideas and ventures, and makes entrepreneurship education available on campuses across the country.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, (765) 496-3133,

Source: Kenneth Kahn, (765) 494-6400,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Purdue students, from left, John Mullen and A.J. Boeh deliver the winning presentation for the EcoDisk Inc. team during the 21st annual Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition in Discovery Park. EcoDisk took the $20,000 top prize Tuesday (April 8) in the undergraduate division for its business plan to develop and manufacture a shooting target that's biodegradable and environmentally friendly. (Purdue News Service photo/Richard Myers-Walls)

Note to Journalists: To arrange interviews with representatives of the winning teams in the Black and Gold divisions, contact Phillip Fiorini, Purdue News Service, at (765) 496-3133,

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